The objects and works of art in this volume tell a story that spans the globe, bridging cultures both familiar and alien. This book is about Dutch merchants, ambassadors, rulers, soldiers, scientists, and artists, and about their Asian partners and counterparts, about slaves and potentates in India, China, Japan, Ceylon, Thailand, and Java.
At first, the Dutch operated all over Asia and the encounter was rich in diversity; after 1800, the Dutch realm was the East Indies archipelago until the Netherlands was forced to cede sovereignty in 1949. A testimony to the continuity throughout this period is a series of portraits of governors-general now at the Rijksmuseum. For over 300 years they symbolized Dutch rule at Batavia (Jakarta).